Beleaguered after many years of struggle, our hard fought democracy is once again under attack!
The reason? An over-hasty and badly drafted hate speech bill which has been tabled to be hurriedly pushed through early next year. Why?
1. This bill is intended to ‘smother free speech that lubricates a free society’ (William Saunderson-Meyer Weekend Argus). It seems as though we are heading back to the repugnant apartheid years. In those years the media was censored and now they want to censor us too. We bewail our freedom and are deeply disturbed. Our country has recently put in motion South Africa’s withdrawn from the ICC. All the skeletons and corrupt deeds of parliamentarians will remain in locked cupboards. Although we can smell the decay of corruption, we will all be muzzled into silence. Our democracy is on the verge of dying with no one to help.
2. Hidden in this bill, is a stipulation that any type of communication that might just offend someone, will be coined ‘hate speech’. While we agree that the current law that speech should not incite violence, we are curious as to why this bill needs to be drafted at all?
3. The failure of this bill lies in the fact that it is so broad in its application - even criminals might ‘feel offended’ when their crimes are brought to book.
4. Ambitious prosecutors could also (mis)apply this bill to frame anyone they choose to dislike. Indeed, our freedom of opinion and our freedom of speech is under attack.
5. Our newspapers and media outlets will publish news devoid of any truth, for fear of a 10 year prison sentence.
6. The media, imams, Shembe leaders, ministers, priests, ART leaders, Nkosis, parents, we all, will be muzzled or end up in prison for 10 years, for merely airing an opinion (not even inciting violence) that offends someone. Would there be enough place in prison for all these people?
7. Only two lying witnesses are needed to bring a motion of ‘hate crime’ against anyone who stands in the way of criminals being prosecuted or any person who takes it upon himself to protect the beloved democracy of South Africa. The subjective inclusions within this bill are enough to accuse anyone, even public protectors. They will merely become stringed puppets at the beck and call of the powerful.
Yes, we are bereaved. Our democracy has been sentenced and is on the death row. Our flame of liberty and freedom will soon be snuffed out by this oppressive law. The struggle that so many held dear, is slipping from our hands, and we have become captured and restrained by this badly devised and devilish bill, that a few powerful individuals aims to force through quickly early next year. During 2017, South Africa’s democracy will have ended…
We ask ourselves, who are these people who want to capture our freedom yet once again?
We, as all communities within South Africa don’t want this Trojan horse as a New Year gift!